Positive Inspirational Stories
Positive Featured Inspirational Story - March 28 to April 26, 2010
I Just Get Started
I sat in my seat, as my new grade six classmates found theirs. At the front of the class our new math teacher stood watching us, 'Come on, class. We don't have all day. Get settled please.'
Mr. Stevens was the strangest teacher we ever encountered. At the beginning of the school year, he rented the basement of a house on the other side of the cove from our school. He drove a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, but usually jogged to school - a rare and strange thing in the early 1970's in Nova Scotia. There were rumours that he flossed daily, which was later witnessed in class after he ate his healthy lunch of vegetables and fruit.
All of these habits were things we were not used to in our small fishing village.
The bell rang.
'OK, class. Welcome to a new school year. I'm Mr. Stevens and I'm sure I'll learn all your names in no time.' He walked around the class handing out math books. When he was done, he returned to the front of the class and looked at us. We stared back.
'What are you waiting for? Get started?' He said.
We looked at him - confused. Wasn't he going to teach us?
'Is there something wrong with your ears? You're not all deaf are you?'
One brave soul at the back of the class asked what we all wanted to know. 'Mr. Stevens, aren't you going to teach us?'
'Rubbish!' Mr. Stevens replied. 'You're smart kids. Open your books and get to it. If you have any trouble or any questions raise your hand and I'll come help you.'
My friend Paul and I exchanged glances and opened our books to the first chapter. A competition began. Paul and I spent all our free time at home working through the lessons. Mr. Stevens, true to his word, helped anyone who was stuck on a problem. It was his clue that a lesson was needed. He'd stop us from what we were doing to teach all the students what one struggled with. It was a strange method of teaching, but it was very effective. He only had to push a few of the less disciplined students to work through the book. Not Paul and I, we worked like dogs and finished two and one half math books that first year.
It was a turning point in my life. Mr. Stevens made me realised I was good at math and also able to reach the top of any class I attended. In our small elementary school, I studied under his guidance for two years.
Mr. Stevens was a strange man, but I loved him. Monty Python's Flying Circus was a popular television show back then. The actors brought the best and most warped of British humour into our Canadian lives. Mr. Stevens would often act out one of their skits in front of the class. He mimicked John Cleese walking the German goose step and often recited line-for-line a skit for the latest show. Some thought he was strange, and I guess he was, but he knew how to make a math lesson interesting.
When I reached grade eight, a new junior high school was built. They call it a middle school now. Our old school, which taught grades one through nine, would only go to grade six. All the older students, including Paul and me, where bussed to the new school. To our delight, Mr. Stevens took a new position as a math teacher there as well. I had the privilege of learning from him for two more years and working my way through many math books.
In the spring of our ninth grade year, we were told to choose the classes we would take in our first year of high school.
There were three choices for every subject: general, academic, and advanced. Mr. Stevens made it quite clear, general classes were for the students who were going no where. Academic classes were middle of the road and would get you to university. The advanced classes were college prep classes. You studied the same topics but were given more work and harder challenges. Paul and I looked at our choices.
General classes sounded easy. 'Rubbish!' Mr. Steven's scolded us. 'You will take the advanced class in math. You're too smart not to."
We compromised and took the academic class. During my second week of high school math I raised my hand. My new teacher, Mr. West, also known as wild, wild West because of his temper, came to my desk.
'What can I do for you?'
'Well, I'm not sure what they want me to do in this chapter. Can you explain it to me?'
He stared at my book. 'We're not doing that chapter yet? Good gosh! You're six chapters ahead of the class.'
'I'm sorry, Sir. I've always done my math this way.'
'Don't be sorry, young man.' He leaned closer to me. The garlic he had for lunch made my eyes tear. 'Look, Mike. Do you have fifth period free? If you do, I have an advanced class then. You need to be in that class.'
'I do, but ...' I began to protest.
He cut me off. 'Mike, this is not the class for you. You need to be in the advanced class. I'll work it out with the guidance teacher. Be here tomorrow at the new time. You're through in this class.'
I thrived in my new environment. I finally had classmates with the same passion for math as I did. It was all because of whacky Mr. Stevens, the man who gave us a book and said, 'Get started!'
I've carried his lesson with me all my life. Whenever I am faced with a new challenge, I think of my first day in grade six math. Instead of sitting and staring at the challenge, I just get started. Before I know, it the challenge has been overcome.
I just get started.
Written by Michael T. Smith
Michael is a writer in his spare time and believes in sharing a smile, a wave, a kind word and a tear. He lives with beautiful wife Ginny in Idaho and works as a project manager in telecommunications when he is not writing. His life experiences have given him a special heart that shows in his writing. For Mike's contact details and to subscribe to his free Hearts and Humour newsletter, please visit . . . Positive Inspirational Links >>>
- Finding a Forever Home
- Grandma's Thimble
- When you thought I wasn't looking
- Left Behind
- Enjoy your nectarine
- The Old Phone . . . How do you spell fix?
- You make a difference
- Lessons from Geese
- The Richest Man in the Valley
- The Making of a Memory
- Why The Elephants Dont Run
- The Sandpiper . . . to bring you joy
- They don't walk in your shoes . . . Click, Click, Click!
- The Happiest Day of My Life
- Courage - Despite the Odds
- You just never know
- Learning to Listen
- If it is meant to be, it will be
- The Learning Tree
- The Red Marbles
- The Weeds of Our Lives
- The Distinct Sound of Purring
- Flowers for the Teacher
- The Red Ribbon
- Santa's Love
- All The Good Things
- Yusuf - He's My Brother
- Extra Good Luck
- Hoo Hoo Fraks
- Stand tall like the Sunflower
- Unique Words of Forgiveness
- I Got Back On My Seat
- Brick Wall
- White Envelopes
- Love and Music in Their Hearts
- Birthday Cards with Secret Codes
- Gift Exchange - lessons about life!
- When the message light doesn't blink
- Tenant Farmers
- I know you by heart
- In Clay Vessels
- Letting Go
- When the nest emptied
- When the birdies came
- Broken Eggs and Shattered Glass
- After the applause, make time for words of praise!
- Are you a bucker filler or a dipper
- Choosing Confidence
- The Stone Soup Story
- A Mother's Job
- Hugging Life
- The Perfect Partnership
- Acknowledging a Special Treat
- A Different Perspective
- Life is meant to be lived
- Treasured Traditions
- Rules for a better way to live
- I Just Get Started
- Memories sustain us on Fatherís Day
- Creating Opportunity
- Forgiving without condoning or forgetting
- Nothing is long or short, hot or cold, good or bad!
- The Power of Discipline
- Sentry of the Homestead
- You deserve an Academy Award!
- All in the Family
- What is your Passion?
- We danced through life
- A choice to make
- Five ingredients of personal growth
- Acres of Diamonds
- If you look like a duck . . .
- The Secret of Happiness
- Harvesting Love
- It's music to your ears
- A Special Brand of Luck
- They are just empty cars
- Thou Art An Eagle
- Encouragement Works
- When you're in the cement mixer
- Plant Annually
- Life and Its Legs
- No Barriers in Life
- Getting Started
- Good Leaders are Good Followers
- How much do you want it to be
- How to improve your vision
- What forgiveness will buy
- Why let that hold you back
- Letting the yeast work its magic
- 9 things that make good employees quit
- The Beginning of Positive Thinking
- Giving Back
- May you be known by your love
- Expand your vision of possibilities
- We are meant for the skies
- Mr Belser died last night
- Are you dead on the job
- What makes us happy
- Motivating Others
- The clock is running so make the most of today
- Calming the muddy waters
- Keeping New Yearís Resolutions - the secret additive
- You are unique
- Web of Love
- Is happiness around the corner
- Seeing Life Through New Eyes
- An enriching action
- The Road to Significance and Success
- The real purpose of your life
- With leadership its the little things that matter
- The Obstacle in our Path
- Good deeds no matter how small can change the world for someone